The liberal mainstream media loves to portray “Doomsday Preppers” as a bunch of Christian, gun-toting, right-wing nuts.
Some of that description makes sense — all but the “nuts” part.
Nearly all preppers believe in the right of Americans to bear arms as enshrined in the Second Amendment. We support the NRA and oppose gun control.
And gun-toting? Yes, most of us are carrying, most of the time.
As for Christian, that varies a bit. There’s certainly no religious requirement of any kind. But most preppers are certainly God-fearing people.
We know that simple heartfelt values are what makes individuals – and our nation – great.
“Right-wing” is a bit harsh but we preppers are decidedly conservative – but with a small “c.” Maybe not all of us are Republican but the Democrats among us are unlikely to identify as “liberal.”
Even the “nuts” part isn’t completely off base. We preppers are passionately committed to learning how to take care of ourselves in the event of a disaster — natural or otherwise.
We know the end is coming, at some point, and to deal with the inevitable mass carnage, we need to be “ready.”
All of these core values were on display at this year’s “Prepper Camp” held in the rolling Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina on the weekend of September 28-30.
As usual, hundreds of eager American “homesteaders” – mostly from Florida, the Carolinas and the Southeast — were on hand to meet old friends, share their survival skills, and rail against the fickle politicians that seem intent on driving America and its way of life to extinction.
To outsiders, the politics may seem extreme, but it’s not really the politics that gives the prepper gatherings their life. It’s the values and the kinship – and the celebration of “natural” living.
Much of what preppers promote might seem strangely familiar to other communitarians, including many liberals and even some socialists.
Preppers favor collective survival solutions based on resource sharing, not extravagant individual purchases. We also promote the use of organic farming techniques as well as learning to spot and gather sources of nourishment found in the wild – everything from weeds to flowers to mushrooms
At this year’s summer event, participants were led on walking tours of the campgrounds in search of all sorts of naturally occurring edibles.
Preppers tend to share surprisingly similar stories about our past hardships and how we managed to get through them. These experiences, more than our politics or even religion, have sensitized us to the threat to civilized life that more widespread deprivation would bring.
Preppers are not just girding themselves physically – but morally, too
There’s talk that Doomsday Prepping as a movement may be on the decline – or at least, experiencing a hiatus.
There may be some truth to this claim. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 has led some people to relax about a coming Armageddon. “There’s nothing to worry about right now” is a common refrain.
Data seems to back that up. Between March 2014 and May 2015, there were 46 prepping “expos” across the US, according to Michael Mills, a British criminologist and one of the few academics to actually study the prepper movement.
In 2019, the prepper website The “Simple Prepper” named just over a dozen prepping shows across the US – a sharp decline.
But this year’s Prepper Camp was well-attended. A lot of the hardest core preppers made the trek from distant parts of the country; they know that the current Trump era won’t last forever.
Not all preppers share the same vision of how the country might collapse – or what kind of preparedness to focus on. Some worry about food and water shortages after natural disasters, but others wanted to be ready for war, deadly pandemic diseases or a major power system failure at a moment’s notice.
Preppers all stockpile, but their stashes may vary. Some focus on supplies like toilet paper, ready-to-eat food rations called MREs, or straws that turn pond water into a drinkable liquid.
Others often dubbed “survivalists,” stockpile arms and ammunition, and may offer weapons training to civilians. Some build underground bunkers with extensive stocks of food and bottled water.
There was no live weapons activity at this year’s Prepper Camp but there was specialized training geared to emergency scenarios. And a number of vendors did offer participants information on how to find nearby weapons ranges.
For all the talk of doomsday scenarios, the people that attend the annual Prepper Event and others like them are mainstream Americans — mostly (but not exclusively) white, married and holding regular jobs just like everyone else. Some are older or retired, but there are a growing number of younger preppers, too.
Consumer data confirms these trends. Some 68 million Americans – about one-quarter of all American adults – made some kind of survival-related purchases in the past year, according to available statistics.
The age breakdown of these consumers indicates that prepping is becoming increasingly appealing to younger Americans.
For example, while just 17% of Baby Boomers purchased survival gear in the past year, a whopping 38% of Millennials did.
And there’s no gender bias, either. Women are just as likely as men to purchase survival-related gear.
When it comes to Doomsday, we’re all at risk – no matter who we are.